One Drink

Submitted into Contest #37 in response to: Write a story that takes place in the woods.... view prompt



Alden woke up hungover as he had every day for the past week.  He thought getting away from the city would have helped with his writer’s block, but all he had accomplished since staying at his cousin’s cabin was drinking whiskey, staring aimlessly at squirrels, and writing random sentences while drunk that he always ended up deleting.  That was until this particular morning.

He decided to look at his laptop, just in case he wrote anything that wasn’t a waste of time during his drunken night. So far that had been far from the case.  However, as he glanced at it this time there apeared to be much more than the usual random sentences strung about the page. In fact, as he looked there were 127 pages. He paused, wondering how he could have written that much in one night, let alone in his state of mind.

He began to read.  It didn’t seem to be written in his style, or at least not in the style he had before his epic battle with booze and writer’s block.  No, it was written in first person. Alden never wrote in first person. It made him feel too vulnerable. However, it was on his laptop.  He checked the door, which was still locked. Who else could have written it? Could he have simply had an alcohol filled moment of creativity.  Either way he decided to read it all.

“I woke up deep in the woods, unsure of how I got there only sure that if I did not escape by morning I would be dead.  I knew they would still be looking for me, even here in this secluded place. I was soaked beside the river bank. Had someone pulled me out of the water?  If so, who and why did they simply leave me there?”

Suddenly Alden had a flash of an image, perhaps a drunken memory or perhaps a dream, but either way he saw rushing water.  Had he fallen in the water drunk? He continued to read.

“It was cold, but the kind of cold you are greatful for.  It was the kind of cold that lets you know you are still alive enough to feel the weather. I’d thought I was safe once I escaped to Chicago.  It seemed like the kind of place that was crowded enough one could be alone, and yet they found me. I was clearly far from there now, despite not knowing my location.  There must have been something in the drink I bought. It was just one drink, amnd one attempt to be out like a normal person. Sometimes one decision is all it takes.

Perhaps I should have attempted to go somewhere hidden, like these woods, but I knew all to well if this is where I woke up they already know this area down to each twig out of place due to a running foot cracking it in an attempt to flee.  However, I ended up in the water, it wouldn’t take long for them to realize it hadn’t killed me.”

One drink.  Alden had heard those words, or had he?  He tried to shake off his hangover, reminding himself that of course the story would be familiar if he’d wrote it. It was time for breakfast.  He’d spent far to much time in that cabin and could finish the story later. His cousin had told him there was a diner worth trying a few miles down the road, mainly worth trying because it was the only one in the small mountain town.  As the cabin walls had him questioning his own sanity, he was ready to give it a try.

The road was windy over looking a cliff, a bit disorienting for someone as hungover as he was.  He pulled over to access his ability to drive, when he looked down. The water in the river below was rushing restlessly, just like in his thoughts that morning.  He shook it off, and went back to driving. Maybe he simply needed a good breakfast and a little less liquor.

He found the diner pretty easily, and ordered a random breakfast with a large picture that didn’t require much thought. His mind drifted to the story.  How had he thought of it? Had he thought of it? That was when he saw a women sitting a few seats from him at the counter. She had one of those faces, like an actress you see in a movie but can’t place the name of.  She mouthed the words thank you and quickly walked out the door.

He sat perplexed for a moment until the waitress approached him.  That woman said yoou are handling her bill. She placed the reciept in front of him.

“That’s fine,” he said a little annoyed.  “What did she order?”

“You don’t know her?”  The waitress looked confused.  “I’m sorry she said you did. I can try to void the order.”

“No, don’t worry about.  I was just about to head out anyway.  What did she get.”

“You’re in luck.  All she ordered was one drink.”

The term rang in his head, but he politely paid and left.  As soon as he got back he returned to the story.

“My name is Annette and for the last several years I have been held against my will, where I do not know.  My father had a gambling problem from what I understand. When he could not pay his choice was the use of his arms and legs or his daughter.  He did not choose his daughter. It took me years to escape, but there are some who will not let go of their property, even if that property is a girl who did nothing more than be born to the wrong parents.”

Alden put down the book...Annette.  He’d heard that name. It rushed through his brain like a river and then he remembered something from the night before. He’d gone out to a bar, frustrated about the lack of progress with his writing.  The bartender threatened to cut him off until a man stepped in.

“He’s fine,” the man said while smoothing back his grey hair.  “Hey, how about I buy you this one and you take one drink over to that pretty thing at the end of the bar.”

It was not a dream or a story made up to entertain, but he couldn’t remember much after that point.  He remembered that he noticed her walk in and sit down. She hadn’t had the chance to order yet when he put the drink in front of her.  It was a Long Island Iced Tea. She smiled and said she’d never tried one before, but she was ready to live a little. 

Alden continued reading as the book story described a drunk stranger near the river.  His description sounded quite familiar to him. The man had his same brown hair, blue eyes, tall stature, and a small scar above his eyebrow.  Alden moved his hand up and felt the spot where he had fallen off his bike as a kid and hit his forehead. She must have been describing him, or had he simply described himself?

According to the story she’d asked him if he knew how she ended up in the river.  He replied that the voices said they were going to throw her in, but he followed them and pulled her back out.  Then he walked to a small cabin in the woods without another word being said other than mumbling about the loud angry voices.

The voices, Alden paused.  Were the voices back? He’d stopped taking his medication. He wasn’t supposed to mix it with alcohol, but he wanted one drink and then one drink turned into day after day of drinking.  He looked down at his laptop. Had he imagined it all?  

Alden packed his things and drove off.  He was going back home. No matter what did or didn’t happen he had his story now.  He stopped briefly at a gas station and as he exited a man with grey hair winked at him.  Alden left and drove home. Perhaps the man was really there and perhaps he wasn’t. Alden would never know.

April 17, 2020 16:38

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Estelle Westley
12:51 Apr 23, 2020

I understood the story better after a second read. I like when a writer makes me think. Good story. Check for some spelling and punctuation. I really hope you will critique me as I am a new writer - only been at it about four months.


Kindra Robinson
01:28 Apr 24, 2020

Thanks. It is nice to know someone actually read it haha. I will try to check yours out too :)


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